Who's that Girl?


Crying at Work

Originally posted: November 3, 2010 on TrishMcFarlane.com

I had another topic planned for today but sometimes a conversation sparks a topic that I can’t get off my mind.  Last night, I had a discussion with someone who was asking about what it was like working in HR as a career.  We talked about recruiting and how campus hiring is different from experienced hiring.  We talked about giving presentations on various types of information.  And we talked about performance coaching and terminations.

Now, while I am not heartless and do not believe that terminations should be a surprise, I’ve always been the person in HR known for being direct.  In fact, from early in my career, employees knew that if they wanted to cry and get the motherly- nurturing touch, they needed to go to the office next to mine and chat with my associate.  She even had a box of Kleenex at the ready for those employees.  If they wanted the “tough love” and direct approach, they’d come to me.  That didn’t mean that I wasn’t kind or that I didn’t listen to them.  It’s just that I’m not one to sugar coat everything or beat around the bush.  It’s just a style thing.  Which brings me to the question I was asked last night….

“Don’t you ever cry when you terminate someone or hear their sad story?”

The question stopped me in my tracks.  No, I do not cry at work. For me, being able to do my job well means that even if I am touched by a situation or story, I need to maintain my composure at all times.  It may not always be easy, but for me, there are no tears in Trish’s HR.  I need to be strong for the employee.  I need to help them through a time where they may be only thinking with the emotional side of their brain and I want to be the stability.  I’m not their parent.  I’m HR.

What do you think?  Have you ever cried with an employee at work, or would you never do that?  Under what circumstances would it be appropriate?  Share the stories with me.  Oh, and…..here’s a Kleenex, just in case.

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